Today I primed small cards so that I could make a collection of my favourite colours. I left some of the card unprimed so I could see the difference once I had painted them. I quite like the matt dried out look, even though that might contradict why I use oils. This is the first time I have been able to use a photograph because I did this word press on my phone. Once I had put the photos on. I could no longer add script. So I left it as a draft and have now come back to it later on my word pro. I can’t yet download my photos from my phone so I will start another word press on my phone again, add photos and so forth. Back and forth until I can work out how to download my photos onto my word pro. They are not speaking to each other as they should.
I feel like now I am going to write about what I have done since my last post I am overwhelmed with how much I have actually done. Not just physically painting, but thinking, reading and visiting galleries. I will go backwards from most recent, and talk about yesterday, the unexpected. Visiting London this weekend, on a sunny afternoon we, myself and my two teenage children chose to look around Windsor Castle, of course there is lots of art work there from the great artists, but its not somewhere I actually thought of going beforehand to look at art. I was quite surprised and my children love museums, not so much art galleries but I’m trying to explain to them that you can see history through art. Art is not just about pretty pictures. We loved it, the painting of Henry V111 amongst them, something the children could relate to as its an image we are constantly subjected to. The art work I found of particular interest were the treasures given as gifts to welcome the Royal Family upon their tours, so such items from New Zealand, Australia, China and Africa. Having travelled myself all these items I recognised and had some relationship with, and memories of myself. A silk scarf in particular, depicting bushmen hunting inspired by Rock Art from South Africa,(Drakensberg) where Nelson Mandela was born. Given by him to the Queen on her visit in 1996 by Sarah Alexandra Mackie. This reminded me of my art work I had been working on over the past 10 years, based around imaginative primitive art. It made me feel a little more confident about my art work so far, and has given me inspiration to keep going with it alongside other projects.
The day before we went to the National Gallery to see the Gauguin Exhibition. I had promised myself I would go and see it with the children. It was a bit of a battle to get them inside, but once I had I loved listening to their comments about the paintings good and bad, and I let them express their thoughts no matter what, yet tried to explain to them what I already knew from seeing the documentary about him and the exhibition. My only regret is that I didn’t buy a book from the bookshop, which I love to do, but I was convinced by the children not to spend any more money. I had taken pictures, but I kind of wish I had. Although I think I am more interested in the relationships between painter and muse. Their struggles if they were painters themselves. I think that’s why I am so interested in Francoise Gilot who shared ten years with Picasso working closely with him, loving him and having two children with him. I bought her book Life with Picasso which I’m finding so interesting which is giving me so much inspiration. Like talking about the eyes on a portrait not being the same. I have struggled with this myself, thinking I should make them the same, and for the eyes to look like the persons I am painting. Picasso painted a lot from memory and imagination, I got the impression he didn’t like paintings that were directly from what was in front of him, “for that there was a camera”. Life with Picasso, Francoise Gilot. I can’t wait to finish the book and understand more about their relationship and how they both worked.
After looking around the Picasso Gallery and the documentary on Gauguin and reading Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot I have began three separate portraits. One of my Great Grandmother who I never knew from my fathers side, myself and my daughter. I am interested in my ancestry and thought it was a good place to start practicing, painting from memory and imagination yet trying to keep some kind of resemblance. I wanted to use colours that represented their ages, not necessarily as they are in the drawing but as I think of them now. My Great Grandmother for example I chose blues, as Picassos blue period means something to me. To me blue signifies death and I am of course connected to death through losing my 2 year old son, and am particularly drawn to that kind of thing. Paintings of death, of dead children which Gauguin had done, and were in the exhibition at the National Gallery. I thought about doing it myself. I have a photograph of my son in the chapel of rest, but thought it too hard for anyone else to see but me. Why would I paint such a thing? I dont know, but I have thought about it. Myself, I am trying to paint in Autumn colours, not just the oranges and browns but the greys of the skies, and lastly my daughter in yellow, which is associated with youth. I want them to connect to each other rather than individual portraits so I will have to work on them for much longer using my scratching technique that I find creates interest and texture and defuses my images.
Tonight I have started my proposal for a week on Wednesday. I have never spoken in front of anyone before about my art work and I think I have been avoiding it all my life. I normally leave everything to the last minute, but I’m trying really hard to get out of that habit.
I think I do this automatically, I can’t help myself, but I need someone to say hay yes this is reflective writing. What’s the difference between critical thinking and reflective writing? Is reflective writing about what your critical mind has been thinking about? I do this all day, every day and its exhausting. I’m exhausted and this is another reason why I am doing my MA Creative Practice now. I want to change, I talk about doing all the time when I am not thinking. I need to start doing. I thought I was starting to do! a week ago. I had my space ready, I had canvas’s ready and I had started drawing a portrait in a sketch book, which as mentioned before I think I can’t draw and don’t like the lines I make. So that was a big thing for me no matter how small for someone else. I went to two lectures. One at the cinema with my daughter to see Gauguin, which I am hoping to follow up with a visit at the National Gallery, London, which has an exhibition on Gauguin Portraits and of course I went to the lecture at the Harrogate Decorative and Fine Art Group. So on a roll I thought I was doing okay. Until I had to work. I had to work, Thursday through to Sunday at the NEC, I knew it would block my mind artistically, so I knew I would mentally have to push myself back into it. I love art and making it but if I am not mentally in the right place I avoid it. My daughter was then ill for two days, and slowly I slipped into my, negative state, I’m going to call it. Without going into too much detail non art related my relationship at home with my partner is fraught with anxiety on my behalf. Not his. I analyse and wallow in self pity, I’ve just looked it up in the dictionary, this is me, I’m finding it hard to accept my situation and my circumstance in life, I constantly mull and muse over my problems, although I dont have the craving for the sympathy and condolences of others. I just keep on this cycle of worry and turmoil. This I am giving into and using as a constant excuse. Although I do enjoy writing about it, it is giving me some relief I feel. So after indulging in my week long self pity, am I now pushing myself to start from where I left off? So now I think I need to do some kind of fun mind map, some research into my practice and some critical thinking and writing about what I have done in my next post. Still need to work out how to add photos on here.
This Monday I decided was the day I would take some of my unused canvas’s into the college. I found a pretty cool spot in the corner facing the sunshine, so I’m very happy indeed, things may move and change and that’s okay too. I can imagine myself working there which is most important. The canvas’s I have were especially made for me, thicker frames with rough hessian. Under this is a kind of carpet underlay to make it thicker and stronger. I like this look, it reminds me of upholstery, interiors and natural fabrics. I would like to be able to make these myself once I have used these last ones up. I like to think I am quite ecological, but then we are often surprised and shocked, and I don’t claim to understand it all. I buy ecological cleaning products, organic foods as much as possible, and recycle, that still isn’t enough though. So this fabric makes me think or believe I am portraying a material that is eco-friendly. The paints I use at the moment may not be, but again I would like to research this. I covered 3 canvas’s in almost black undercoat. I dont like to start with white, it makes me feel uneasy, and blank, it doesn’t inspire me. I look at a colour, any colour and it will inspire me to think something. its funny I have mentioned this, but whilst composing my power-point for my introduction it was suggested that I use a black background. A lot more pleasing to the eye. So there must be something in it. Some reasoning?
So my canvas’s are now there waiting for me to start, and I want to start with the method I’ve been using now on my paintings for the past 8 years or so, to get me going, comfortable and excited. I would like to put a few photographs in here but I havn’t quite figured that out yet.
The process I have been using is similar to cave paintings, very simple, using a cut out of a drawing and painting layers upon layers of oil paints and various other paints I can get my hands on. The reason I have done this I have just worked out is because to me my drawings are like my spellings. There is a right way and a wrong way to spell. To me there is a right way and a wrong way to draw. If it doesn’t look real or right I don’t like it. I did say before in my blog I felt I was hiding something I couldn’t do, ie; spell, so this is the same method, by using a stencil, I am hiding the fact I cannot draw. or think I cannot draw because I dont like the marks I make. If someone else has done it however I do like it. Not sure if that makes sense to you reading this. Its my lack of confidence in my own drawing skills. So my way around it is to cut it out and paint over it like a stencil. The stencils I have been working on for the past 8 years have also developed themselves. I had no pan of what I was going to paint, I just enjoyed the process. So this again is something I aim to do next, to plan the painting.
Yesterday I joined the Harrogate Decorative fine art group, I went to my first lecture which was about Romantic Modernism, Ravilious and Piper. I really did enjoy the lecture and felt transported into middle England in the 1930’s. I did feel a bit young to be there but I think the lecturers are so good it was worth it. Perhaps I could get my mother to join up? I was inspired by the faded colours that Ravilious used and I am sure they may influence my next couple of sketches or drawings. Tonight I am going to see Gouguin from the National Gallery, London at the Everyman Cinema. I love the colours Gouguin used and so excited to see it and that my daughter is coming with me.
Before I Before I start to write about where I am going with my MA, I would like to explain my big challenges. University was fun and exciting and relatively easy compared to what was to come next for me. I was in my prime, about to be married, about to have a baby, graduating all at the age of 30 and I felt good. My husband and I moved up to Yorkshire to be close to my family and my routes. I had been awarded a grant from the Princes Trust to set up my own studio in Stained Glass. We converted the cellar into a studio space and bought a kiln from Bradford. I was naïve when it came to electricity and asked for a kiln I could use at home. Domestic not Commercial, I knew that much. Well as it happens I was sold what is called a 3 phase electric kiln which cannot be used in a domestic property. I tried to exchange this from where I purchased it, but the man I bought it from, who had a large glass product shop in Bradford, was so rude, even nasty to me would not let me exchange it. I went to small claims court, and they knew of this man but apparently made it clear that I would not be able to exchange it or get a refund as he works at the courts as a magistrate. The best thing for me to do was to sell the kiln on, which I did to Harrogate College. I had plans to perhaps buy another one, but obviously from someone else. But unfortunately life has a different plan. I was pregnant again at the time, and this problem with the kiln caused me so much stress. I have to write about what happened next because its now so much part of who I am and why I do things, it has shaped me perhaps more than anything. Its perhaps too long to write about here right now in depth but briefly my next child was born with what is called a Vein of Galen Aneurysm. I think, like many, or most other mothers I am very intuitive, I knew something was wrong as soon as he was born. Yet it took 11 weeks to get a diagnosis. We had two years of hospital visits, consultations. 5 week long hospital stays in Paris during embolization operations may I call them. It was horrific, yet we didn’t save him and he passed away in my arms at the LGI. I could go into so much more detail, but for the sake of this blog and my art its here to explain why I have decided not to work for the last 12 years or so. I wanted to be with my other 2 children, a baby girl I had just 3 months before my son died, and my first born son aged 3. I tried working for a few years after but once I had the opportunity to stop I did. This experience and topic I am sure will have a part to play in my art work and something I may experiment with during this MA.
Now I get to the point why I think I have started the MA now, my first born son has reached 18 and left for University, I think I was grieving for the loss of his childhood that has gone too quick, the loss of wanting to look after him and be around him as much as possible, there is now no reason to be in the house as much, empty nest syndrome it is sometimes called, even though I have my daughter still at home, she is more independent and requires a different kind of attention and nurturing. They are different and I miss him. I want to use this energy and everything I have been through in my art work, there is still more to write about and use, but I will get to that later in my work as I develop but I think for now I need to learn how to use my experiences and grow artistically.
Reflecting on my art classes during my school days is problematic. Its a hot topic to write about bullying in school because it is a major problem and it was for me at the time.
In my ‘O’ Level art class at school I had my paintings up upon the wall, probably in the corridor not far from the reception. I dont think they had been there long but someone had spat on them and all the paint had smudged. I felt devastated, but not at one point did any teacher take note, discuss with me how I felt or even take them down. They were left there for all to see, along with my humiliation that they had been spat on. Another negative experience I had was again in art class a teacher had lent me his own personal copy of an art book, with paintings for me to use as an example. Nobody else had a book so I was obviously creating good feedback to the teacher that I was taking art seriously. He had made it quite clear I should be careful and not get paint on the book, of course. Well towards the end of the lesson whilst I was cleaning my brushes, girls sharing my table daubed paint over his precious art book. whilst I was still at the sink, he came over to the table and saw the paint, shouted at me, even threw a chair at me and told me to leave the class. Well I’m sorry it doesn’t take an arch bishop to work out what happened there, and in my view he could have dealt with the situation much more carefully and considerately. I can only hope that things in school have changed for the better. I can remember that day so vividly and obviously writing about it shows its importance to me, however this is a story I often do tell with some humour now, along with another time when again in my art class, this time another teacher. He was pacing up and down between our chairs giving us a talk about art, whilst I was listening I was drawing, I didn’t think what I was drawing, but as I did he walked towards me and asked to see what I was drawing, he screamed something at me, and told me to leave the room, without actually realising it I had drawn him. He obviously recognised himself, it must have been quite good if I got a likeness, as I always find that difficult. I was particularly upset at the time but now I can see the funny side.
Writing about art and how it has influenced my life, I can go as far back as being age 9 and winning a competition at school for the best landscape watercolour painting of Malham Tarn whilst on a school field trip. I still have this painting as I found it whilst looking for information I needed to enrol onto this MA in Creative Media. Then at the age of 15 and leaving school with only 1 ‘O’ level in Art of course! I had to make a choice of career. Nobody knew what dyslexia was then but I had it and didn’t find out till 12 years later. Advantage or disadvantage irrelevant at this stage but I thought I was hiding something from everyone. I felt different and I didn’t fit in. In the careers centre back then! Being an August baby ! I was very young compared to everyone else already way past 16 most of them. “What do you want to do”? They said. “I want to be an artist”!😇 shock horror on the face!! No! Do you want to end up like Van Gogh penniless! Cutting off your ear and ending up in a mental institution”? Honestly if the careers advisor can remember saying this to me? What chance does a 15 year old have? Looking back I think it’s funny but it effected me and stopped me for a long time following the path I felt I could have. “Nurse or Secretary”? Well can you imagine my horror! I could hardly read or spell ! I thought I would end up giving the wrong medicine to the wrong person if I was a nurse, so I chose to be a secretary and went to secretarial college for 2 years! Not that bad really. I can type fast and my spelling did improve a bit. I did read about art and travelled the world looking at it and at the age of 25 I started a pottery course at a local college and for the first time a teacher took interest in my work and told me I could get into university with a portfolio like I had !! Good teachers and positive words can change lives and thankyou for them. I moved to London, worked to finance myself through a Access course at Lambeth College and then onto Roehampton Institute, University of Surrey for a degree in Art for Community. A course I thought sounded interesting as it gave me a chance to experience different media. Photography, drawing, ceramics and stained glass,
This is not easy! If something is not going right I take it that it’s me that’s doing it wrong. That’s how I’ve probably been brought up to think everything is my fault and it’s therefore my responsibility to make it right. That’s not a good way to think all the time and I’m only just learning that at the ripe old age of 49! I try my best and I try to be better the next day and the next. My art is no different! I will try better tomorrow than today. I have been saying this for a long long time. I am scared of failure and I am scared of success. I sometimes think that to be successful I have to sacrifice something. A relationship perhaps? Or time with my children? A clean organised house? These are the three most important things in my life besides art and I want to try and keep these going while I aim for success for the first time in along time.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
Discussing my issues, methods and practices along the way to discovering what kind of artist I am.
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